Federal Disability Attorney: Beliefs beyond boundaries

There are beliefs that are presumed to be true, if not merely conventional.  Superstitious beliefs, so long as they do not interfere with daily activities and being productive, are acceptable; believing in the existence of aliens on other planets, for instance, or even that some have visited this planet, will not make a difference in the conduct of one’s life; on the other hand, if the same person believes that the alien is invisible and shadowing him wherever he goes, it might begin to impede ordinary and acceptable behavior.

There are “flat earth” associations, and one may cling religiously to the belief that the earth is flat and not round or oval, and argue vociferously that when you walk and see the horizon, there is no indication other than that the earth is flat; and such a belief would likely remain harmless and largely irrelevant.

Then, of course, there are beliefs beyond boundaries of acceptable and normative accountability, like embracing a belief in a date certain that the world will end, where such a belief results in preparation for the coming doom, spending all available resources in building and reinforcing a bunker constructed in one’s backyard, quitting one’s job in order to prepare for the inevitability of the end.  Or, of a belief that all women on Thursdays who wear blue are germ-carriers, because when Jason was five years old there was a woman who wore blue on a particular Thursday who stopped, patted him on the head and said, “Nice boy”, and on that very day, by that woman who wore blue, he became deathly ill and ended up in the hospital for two months teetering on death’s doorstep.

Is that an “unreasonable” belief to have?  Can one not make the argument that there is a “rational” basis for such a belief, and it is within the reasonable boundaries of acceptability?  Would you call such a person “crazy”?  And, so long as he goes to work each day, is productive, doesn’t harm anyone – and no woman on Thursday enters his cubicle wearing blue, he never runs out screaming, “Don’t let her touch me!” – no one would be the wiser for holding such a belief.

And of the Federal or Postal employee who refuses to take the necessary steps to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because he or she believes that taking “advantage” of such a benefit means that he or she is no longer “worthy” – is that a belief beyond boundaries of rationality?

Yet, that is often what pauses the Federal or Postal employee from preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the mistaken belief that is beyond the proper boundaries that there is something inherently “wrong” with the Federal or Postal employee when you file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, when in fact all you are doing is to finally recognize that health, life and one’s well-being are more important than killing yourself over a job that has always accorded the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Days of Partial Life

To whom do we owe our due?  What motivates, compels and propels?  Is it by way of a sense of indebtedness (a sort of negation attempting to claw back and regain a foothold), or an assertion of one’s rightful ownership of life, land and property?  Or perhaps there is a sense of a higher calling, whether by teleological justification, or a whisper of duty?

Some days, we walk within a mist of stupor, half-alive, barely conscious, and hoping to simply get through the day.  Other days, a breath of fresh air fills our lungs, and life promises a brighter future, like the winds suddenly lifting the stagnant kite higher into the heavens where promises of greater glories hold truth in the palm of an angel’s hand.  We often fail to recognize the power of our own daily will; it is free to choose, undetermined in the morning, past memories in the afternoon, and concretized by night.

There is a difference when an individual is beset with a chronic and debilitating medical condition, precisely because in such circumstances, one’s daily life is no longer free to choose like entrees on a menu for a preset course of delectable meals.  No, individuals with impacting medical conditions can only live lives of partial living, bifurcated into elementary segments:  times of pain, times of being pain-free; times of lethargy and cognitive loss of focus, and rare times of mental acuity and clarity of judgment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer daily from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the judgment to file for Federal Disability Retirement may come when the proportionate bifurcation of the partial life reaches a critical point where the segment of pain exceeds the portion of non-pain, or put quite simply, when the quality of life deteriorates so miserably that one’s days off are merely used up in order to recuperate for further days of pain or cognitive dysfunction.

Federal Disability Retirement, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a benefit available to all Federal and Postal employees who have a minimum number of years of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).

When those days of a full life become transformed into a chronic continuum of days of partial life, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire